Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Agent Answers: Paranormal vs Fantasy

You have questions? Do you constantly miss #askagent sessions on Twitter? Is it impossible, despite a hundred Google searches, to find an answer to your question? Then you've come to the right place. Ask a question either on any "Agent Answers" post or on Twitter, and I'll answer as many as I can. My answers will be subjective and should not be considered applicable to every agent (though I do like to assume my opinions are the majority).

I happen to be very particular about my genres. In my head, there is a definitive line between paranormal and fantasy. To me, the only* fantasy worthwhile is the straight, epic, high, king, queens, dragons, different realm, no world jumping type. Lord of the Rings instead of Chronicles of Narnia. And paranormal is set in our world with supernatural beings (and the sort I love best is with hot naked vampires--this doesn't apply to Twlight because we only see half naked werewolves, not vampires... not that I'm complaining Taylor!).

I was asked:
My WIP is technically paranormal but instead of creatures it has reincarnating soldiers from the crusades. To keep agents from rolling their eyes when they read my query, should I label it paranormal or fantasy? 
For me**, it depends. YA or Adult? I'm much more receptive to Adult Paranormal--if there are naked vampires (werewolves, harpies, Frankensteins, reincarnated badasses in history--I have one of those!--as long as they're naked). In YA I'm a little burnt out on the paranormal, not that someone somewhere won't buy it if it's good.

Honestly, label it what it is. Don't try to cheat, we will call you out on it (I do it by glaring at the wall then rejecting the query). To me, it sounds paranormal. Call it paranormal. This is where comparables help, they tell us so much more than a simple label.

Happy writing!

*There are exceptions to every rule.
**Everything is subjective.


PattiBuff said...

Thank you for answering this. Just have to add that I nearly had a heart attack this morning when I read this because I had forgotten I had posted the question and so thought my idea wasn't so original anymore. *sigh*

Time for more coffee. Thanks again!

Huntress said...

This fantasy vs paranormal discussion drives me nuts. I end up banging my head on the keyboard.

I want it simple and classifying fantasy as epic, high, S & S, etc makes sense.

But it’s the paranormal/urban fantasy/speculative fiction/contemporary fantasy/magical realism vomitous mass (Princess Bride reference) that puts my knickers in a tangle.

How can I place my manuscript when the agents don’t agree about the genres?